From Pain to Power: Transforming Your Relationship with Adoption

Adoption is hard. It’s so very hard. And, it’s beautiful. Adoption is heartbreakingly beautiful.

I understand the complexities of adoption.

I’ve lived them.

I live them.

Adoption never leaves you. For the adoptee, it’s a journey that spans a lifetime. Being adopted is an experience we didn’t ask for, or even cause. There are real and raw moments when it seems that the pain and confusion of adoption cannot be overcome. Asking why, often times, seems pointless when answers are hard to find. Adoption can seem unfair. Unjust. Adoption can hurt. You may wonder if you’ll ever move beyond the disempowering feelings.

I want you to know that you can. You can move beyond the hurt. You can transform your relationship with adoption from pain to power, from pieces to promise.

As an adoptee, I’m familiar with the anger that can intensify within. I’ve ached from the weight of unresolved emotions left bottled up inside. I have kept close company with fear. Afraid of rejection. Afraid of connection.

I’ve lived parts of my life trying to inject myself into the past, only to discover that this didn’t really serve me. Trying to change what had already occurred left me feeling defeated and alone. I learned, over the years, that I couldn’t alter my early story. I didn’t hold that kind of power. I couldn’t go back and be the girl I was before adoption entered my life.

Evolving into the woman I dreamed of becoming would require that I reframe my relationship to the past and to my own adoption. This reframing would be the only way forward to a meaningful and empowering transformation.

I had to identify what was preventing me from progressing in my life and in my relationships. What was keeping me from feeling joy, experiencing love and connection, and a sense of purpose and calling?

I discovered that living in the past of adoption and staying stuck in that place would never aide me in sharing the wealth of wisdom and compassion that I possess as an adoptee. I had to take ownership of these gifts. I couldn’t ignore them anymore. In other words, I needed to participate in my own rescue. I had to take responsibility for my life. No longer blaming other people or past situations for my pain.

I needed to awaken to a different way of being.

I was ready to wake up.

Ready to let go of the stories that kept me stuck in a place of struggle and of suffering.

Ready to forgive the birth parents who left me.

Ready to forgive the adoptive parents who stepped in, yet couldn’t hear the silent cries of a grief-stricken girl.

Ready to forgive me.

Ready to see myself as worthy of love.

Ready to see myself as a woman with something to give.

A woman with so much to share.

I was ready to understand the past, but I was no longer willing to live there. It’s like the quote says, Life can only be understood backwards; but it must be lived forwards.  

I’m in Denver watching the snow fall as I write these words. I’ve been spending focused time here, revisiting my work and my commitment to helping adoptees move forward, to heal, and to excel.

I’ve also been revisiting my own journey of adoption, and exploring my passion to serve as a mentor to other adoptees who may—right now—be feeling lost, alone, and confused. I’m passionate to help because I understand just how complex living as an adoptee can be.

I also know that adoptees are some of the most incredible people on the face of this earth. It’s my goal to remind them!

What if, dear adoptee, you began to reframe the meaning of adoption? What if you began to see how adoption, even with its challenges, has been a blessing in your life? What if the challenges have made you more resilient, more compassionate, and more resourceful?

Look around you. Look within you. How has adoption made you better, stronger, wiser?

If you transformed your relationship with adoption—from pain to power, from pieces to promise—how might that impact your life today? What could be renewed in the doing?

Look back to understand. Then, take those lessons and move forward. Step into a life of gratitude and abundance. Because, you see, everything is a gift. As hard as it’s been, dear adoptee, look at you. You’re here!

You have so much to teach and to share. Please don’t let the hard places of adoption stop you from becoming everything you’ve been created to be. Set your gaze on the gifts. Watch your life transform.






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11 thoughts on “From Pain to Power: Transforming Your Relationship with Adoption

    1. Hello. Thank you for your question. I’d truly have to know more of your situation before I could comment in depth. This piece was written with the heart of the adoptee in mind. Primarily, the adult adoptee who may be carrying with them unresolved hurt. I would always say to parents, that at the root of “bad behavior” is a wounded heart and unresolved pain. As much as you are hurting, and I honor you for sharing this truth, please know that your child is likely hurting, too. I’d look for support. A safe place to share. I coach adoptees. Reach out to me or to someone who will listen.

  1. Thank you for these thoughts. I am also adopted. Birth mother left my father and three young kids, I was 2 with two older brothers. Sweet father tried with help of his parents to raise us on his own. He was an alcoholic but tried the best he knew how. When I was six he took his own life. I was separated from brothers and went to a great family. Later my birth mother came back in the picture, brothers remembered her and went back with her. I did not I asked to stay with my foster family and was adopted when I was 9. Love them very much but all the things you talked about I have felt. Now at 48 I am finally in some counciling and dealing with abandenment issues. So many ups and downs but finally realizing why I have felt empty my whole life. Has taken a lot of years and pain to start to learn how to love and truly forgive.

    1. Hi Susan. Thank you for sharing, with such courage and vulnerability, your story of loss and of adoption. I’m so sorry for the loss and pain you have experienced. I’m grateful for the foster family who became your forever family. As an adoptee, I understand the abandonment issues you speak of. Adoption is filled with ups and downs, or as I say: entries and exits. So many emotions and questions… I’m so happy that you are receiving support and are beginning to address those empty feelings within. Yes, loving and forgiving are essential to the adoptee’s journey of healing. You said that well! And if at some point you feel that you need any additional support, know that I’ll begin 6 month and 12 month adoptee empowerment coaching soon. I’m expanding my coaching offering as many are asking for this level of support. In addition, I’ll soon be offering a 6-week adoptee empowerment online course. This will be a powerful way for adult women of adoption to connect and form community. There is much on the horizon and many ways, I think, that you might find further connection and support. It’s so important! I hope you’ll consider. With love and gratitude, Michelle

  2. Thank you for your words of wisdom. I have struggled with this pain my whole life. It is good to know their has been hope for a fellow adoptee. Even with today being my birthday, most people are excited for this day. I never look forward to this day because it has always been a day of sadness.

    1. Hello Kristin. And, may I say to you: happy birthday! I’m so grateful that you’re here in this world! I do understand the pain that you have struggled with. And, I’m sorry for your pain. I also understand the difficult relationship with a birthday. I once struggled mightily with that. Until, a few years ago, when I changed my relationship with my birthday. It was no longer mired in memories of abandonment. It was liberated into pure celebration for my life. And, for what I’m here to do with my life. And, so on this day — your birthday — I offer you this: give yourself the gift of stepping beyond those memories that keep you in sadness. You are a blessing to this world. You are valued. You are needed. I hope you’ll sign up for my newsletter. It’s a monthly and might be a nice place for you to connect. Also, I’ll begin 6 month and 12 month adoptee empowerment coaching soon. I’m expanding my coaching offering as many are asking for this level of support. In addition, I’ll soon be offering a 6-week adoptee empowerment online course. There is much on the horizon and many ways, I think, that you might find connection and support. I hope you’ll consider. With love and gratitude, Michelle

  3. I am an adoptive parent of teenage daughters. My older daughter seems to communicate about adoption with me and others close to her and even though she only has one friend who is also adopted, she seems to be generally at peace regarding having been adopted. My younger daughter, though, is struggling. I think she might benefit from the ideas you write about. Do you work with teens? Thank you.

    1. Dear Jean, Thank you so much for your message here. I am currently traveling on speaking and will fly home to California later today. I would be more than willing to speak with you about your daughter. You can go to my coaching site,, and schedule a 15 minute consultation. We could move forward from there. Please know that there is support for your daughter. Sometimes, speaking with another adoptee really does do a world of good. With gratitude, Michelle

  4. Thank you, Michelle! I am sending this on to our younger son from Korea (age 46) because of struggles he had several years ago, especially after finding out his birth mother had died. He had tried to locate her for years.

    And recently he learned that what the orphanage told him (he was 6 when we adopted him and his 8 yr old brother), and even more what they told us was not even close to being accurate. Literally we were flying blind with no support from agency (1978). So, been rather tumultuous for all of us. But you post today helps

    1. Thank you, Rich. As I grow along this journey of adoption, I know that adoptees need each other. We need to connect and to communicate. We need to speak our stories and our struggles. To try and navigate this experience alone is just not sustainable. Thank you for sharing this post with your son. I hope that he’ll connect with other adoptees. We’re here. We’ll always be here. Sending you love and gratitude!! ~Michelle

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